Handmade float set for rivers

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Handmade River floats

I find handmade floats very satisfying to fish with. It’s not just the natural materials, or that each one is unique. I enjoy the look and feel of them and of course fishing with them.

Mass produced floats are very uniform, which can be an advantage. Match anglers, for example, need reliably identical floats. Each float rig must be the same and work as expected. But I am not a match angler, I am not even a professional, I am just a keen pleasure angler. I have the luxury of using imperfect handmade floats, floats that I like, floats that are a joy to use.

Anyway, getting to the point, my wife asked me what I wanted for Christmas. Along with the usual couple of fishing books, I asked her to get me a set of handmade floats from Ian Lewis. As I do quite a bit of river fishing she got me “River Set 1”, which contains one each of the following.

Handmade float set

[From left to right]
Handmade River float set
River set 1

Trent Trotter

The Trent trotter is a handmade float designed for fishing very shallow water with a steady flow. The one in my set has a 4 BB loading. Fished over depth, it is fixed to the line bottom end only.

Use most of the shot to hold the float in place. Add one or two shot below the float to control the bait. Add a back shot far enough up the line behind the float to ensure it drags along the bottom in the flow. The size and position of the back shot dictates how the float trots down the swim.

Because the Trent trotter is fixed bottom end only, it cannot be held back in the usual way. But on the up side, it works well in a downstream wind.

Crow Quill Avon

This is simply a crow quill float fitted with a balsa body. The addition of the body makes the float very buoyant, ideal for rivers with a stronger flow. The body holds the float at the surface while the heavier shotting (4AAA) pulls the line tight below the float.

Fixed top and bottom and slightly held back, to ensure the bait precedes the float. A tell tale shot with a bulk of shot further up. The Quill Avon is classic float that has been used for many years.

Victorian Replica

I have to admit I am not familiar with this float. Looking at it though, it is very much like a traditional stick float. So I guess; fish it like a stick.

Cork Bob

When I started fishing as a small boy I owned just two floats, one of which was a cork bob. I still have my original, which I would now never use. I look forward to using my brand new, old style, cork bob in the same streamy stretches of water I once fished with my original.

Ideal for big baits, Perch and Chub are the main species for the cork bob. The simplest of simple rigs of only a bulk shot set at about one third up from the hook. The bait, a whole lob worm, a prawn or bread crust can be fished in streamy and turbulent water. Attach the float top and bottom.

This float can be trotted 50 yards away and still be seen. Moving from swim to swim, large parts of the river can be covered in search of big solitary fish.

Harcork Replica

This small 2BB version is ideal for Perch, Roach and Rudd. Fished top and bottom with light line at close range. Slow or still waters.

No shotting pattern as such, just pinch on a couple of BB’s to suite the circumstances. I have them just under the float when fishing on the drop for Rudd. Halfway down perhaps when fishing over eel grass. Within a foot when fishing for Perch over a dead weed bed in the winter.

Oak Gall Bob

Another handmade Perch and Chub float. Fished in the same way as the cork bob, but with the floats body completely submerged. Good in a steady flow for searching out Chub and Perch.

Roach Float

A very sensitive balsa float with a metal insert. Semi self cocking, these handmade floats only need a small amount of shotting to cock. The float in my set only requires 2 BB.

This float can be dotted right down to increase sensitivity, or left a little high for easier spotting. Attach to light line by the bottom end only, perhaps with a No.1 either side. String No.8 or No.6 down the line to finish the shotting.

Fish for Roach and Rudd on the drop on still or slow moving water.


Handmade float with a thick balsa body on a cane stem with a goose quill tip. Taking 3SSG to cock, this float is made for fast, shallow swims while trotting a big bait.

Fixed to the line top and bottom, with a simple bulk shot to cock the float. The thick goose quill allows the float to be seen at some distance even in choppy water. Ideal for Chub.

Should be good

I must have dozens of mass produced floats, but I have to say I am looking forward to using these handmade floats. Between the different local rivers and streams, I know I will get opportunity to use all eight floats at some time or other. In fact I think I could take just this one set and catch fish on most every trip. It should be good, I will let you know how I get on.

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Handmade floats